Latest Episode | Cut To The Race Podcast
Theo Pourchaire claimed a dominant pole position in the first Formula 2 qualifying session of 2023. He was followed by his rookie teammate, Victor Martins.
How it happened
At the end of a day full of running in Bahrain, the Formula 2 drivers took to the track to qualify for the weekend. They took their time getting warmed up, with the first fast laps getting set by the Campos Racing cars about five minutes into the session.
Ralph Boschung was the first to claim a representative first place, setting a time of 1:42.010 with his teammate Kush Maini close behind.
Arthur Leclerc and Dennis Hauger were quick to close up behind, but couldn’t quite manage to take the top spot on the timing sheet. Then, less than ten minutes into the session, Pourchaire was the first driver to go into the 1:41s range, and took provisional pole from Boschung.
A few of the drivers touted as title contenders struggled in this first qualifying session, one of them being Ayumu Iwasa. Driving for DAMS in his second season, Iwasa couldn’t improve upon his initial P18 for most of the session, and came into the pits with the rest of the drivers with half their time gone.
With Pourchaire, Boschung, Martins, Leclerc, and Hauger sitting in the top five, the only driver who remained on track was Jack Doohan, who also was struggling. He attempted to make up ground without any traffic, but only managed fourth place in clean air.
With twenty minutes gone of the 30-minute session, all the drivers came back on track to set their final laps. As the lap times began improving, the drivers in the top five changed consistently, with Frederik Vesti, Richard Verschoor, and Maini all setting very quick laps.
But no one could stop Pourchaire, who, on his next fast lap, went a whole nine-tenths faster than the rest of the field and solidified his spot at the top of the board. He was quickly followed by Martins, who held second place seven-tenths off his teammate.
From there, no one else was able to improve or come close to Pourchaire’s time. Behind the ART Grand Prix cars was Richard Verschoor, who claimed P3. Hauger and Vesti completed the top five, ahead of Maini, Iwasa, Leclerc, and Roman Stanek. Boschung came tenth, securing reverse grid pole for tomorrow’s Sprint Race.
Doohan, who struggled early on, fell all the way down to 17th towards the end, and will have a lot of ground to make up in both the races.
Full results can be found here.
Feature Image Credit: Joe Portlock – Getty Images